Revealing the Taliban


“Fundamentalism Reborn” Is First Book

To Examine Afghanistan Under The Taliban


"A dozen experts provide a coherent picture of the Taliban, the emergence, their military development, the civil war, and their relations with foreign powers. Several of the authors conclusively demonstrate that the Taliban are the creatures of external powers.... Richard Mackenzie provides a devastating summary of the ineptitude with which U.S. policies have been conducted . . ." 

-- Middle East Quarterly

"A useful analysis of the Taliban and politics and society in Afghanistan today. The four chapters on the intensive foreign involvement -- by Pakistan, the United States, Russian, the Central Asian republics, Saudi Arabia, and Iran--show that the venerable "great game" once played between Britain and czarist Russia now has multiple players."

-- Foreign Affairs

"A fascinating and thorough analysis of the very complex political/military situation that evolved in Afghanistan following the demise of the Soviet puppet regime in 1992. This volume also provides an insightful study of the rise of a new form of puritanical Islamic fundamentalism that overran Kabul in September 1996--namely, the Taliban, and its impact on Afghan society. . . . Highly recommended."

-- Choice 

"[It] is an important collection of essays by leading experts on Afghanistan and the invaluable academic resource for anyone seeking to understand how the Taliban came to rule and "ruin" Afghanistan."

-- Washington Times


In 1996, the world watched with varying degrees of interest, surprise, and unease as armed, ultra-fundamentalist insurgents overthrew the Afghan government. Within days of their victory, the Taliban, a militant Islamic sect, were issuing draconian religious decrees, restricting women's employment and movement, rounding up Afghans at gunpoint to pray five times a day, and publicly executing political opponents and criminals.

Composed of essays commissioned from the foremost experts on the Taliban, this anthology traces the movement's origins, its ascendance, the reasons for its success, and its role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Crucial to the Taliban's staying power as a governing force will be its relations with neighboring countries and with the West. Interestingly, given their intense hatred of Iran, the Taliban were enthusiastically supported by the U.S. government up to the very moment of their triumphant arrival in Kabul.

In late 1994, a new force unexpectedly emerged in the politics of war-ravaged Afghanistan – the Taliban.

Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan Under the Taliban (288 pages/$45, cloth; $18.98, paper), published (in 1998) by the New York University Press, is the first book to document the dramatic rise to power of the fundamentalist Islamic sect known as the Taliban. The book is edited by William Maley, senior lecturer in politics at the University of New South Wales. (The book is now available at Amazon.)

Ostensibly a movement of religious students, inspired by a vision which its leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was said to have received in a dream, the Taliban first seized the southern Afghanistan city of Kandahar in 1994 and then in 1995 the ancient city of Herat. Finally, in September of 1996, the capital Kabul fell to the Taliban’s forces. There its demands for the seclusion of women under a strict Islamic regime immediately captured world attention.

Much about the Taliban remains mysterious. Mullah Mohammad Omar has never been photographed, and the sect’s opponents have depicted it as the creature of Pakistani military intelligence, the ISL. The United States and Iran also have become entangled with the Taliban at various times.

Fundamentalism Reborn? looks beyond the popular stereotypes to explore the roots of the Taliban movement, the factors which contributed to its sudden rise, and the implications of Taliban mobilization for the stability of Afghanistan and the entire surrounding region.

The authors of the compelling chapters in this book are all well-known specialists on the area and include such scholars as Anthony Davis, who reports on Afghan affairs for Asiaweek; Michael Keating, UN senior advisor, Strategic Framework for Afghanistan; Richard Mackenzie, journalist; and M. Nazif Shahrani, professor of anthropology and Central Asian Studies at Indiana University and a Scholar-in-Residence at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Editor William Maley, who also provides both the "Introduction" and a chapter on "The UN in Afghanistan," has held visiting appointments at Oxford University, ANU, and the Russian Diplomatic Academy. He co-edited The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan and co-authored Regime Change in Afghanistan: Foreign Intervention and the Politics of Legitimacy and Political Order in Post-Communist Afghanistan.

America and the Taliban: "Fundamentalism Reborn," a book of essays by the world leading experts on Afghanistan, traced the formation and rise to power of the Taliban. Edited by William Maley, it is an essential reference. Richard Mackenzie contributed the chapter, "America and the Taliban," a story of a diplomatic and intelligence vacuum created by Washington but filled by a global oil company and a neighboring country's military intelligence unit.

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